Freestanding Applique: Cookies for Santa

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to show you several cute holiday projects you can make to get a jump start on the holidays!

Christmas Cookies is an adorable 10-design set. The cookies are super cute when appliqued on items but they are really darling when stitched as freestanding applique.

What is Freestanding Applique?

Applique designs are typically stitched onto another fabric, like a shirt or a towel. When applique design edges are finished with satin stitches, you can make the designs stand on their own. The trick is using a heat-away stabilizer. 

Creating the Cookies

Hoop a heat-away stabilizer. (A water-soluble stabilizer can be used as well.) Heat-away stabilizers work really well for freestanding applique because they pull away cleanly without any need for further removal. 

Depending on how your stabilizer stands up, you may want to add another layer of stabilizer (scraps work well) just over the satin stitching area. Satin stitching can perforate the stabilizer if just one layer is used.

Stitch out the placement stitches.

Remove the hoop from the machine and add a piece of felt to the front and also to the back. You can attach the felt with spray adhesive, painter's tape, or glue stick.

Reattach the hoop and stitch the tack-down stitching. 

Since felt was placed on both the front and back, the tack-down stitches show where each side should be trimmed.

Trim felt on both sides.

Continue stitching. Add extra stabilizer to support the satin stitch edges if necessary. 

I left off some of the detail embroidery so that I could add buttons and other embellishments.

If you use the same thread in the bobbin, both sides will look good!

Whether you use a water-soluble or heat-away stabilizer, they easily tear away when embroidery is finished. 

Plate them up for a fun addition to your Christmas décor.


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  • Bonnie Welsh - December 01, 2018

    Nancy—Yes they’re fine for a t-shirt with proper stabilization (use a cut away for any knit). The Christmas Cookies have a satin stitch all around the outer border with a decorative stitch on top to give them a look of icing. =)

  • Nancy Green - November 29, 2018

    can you stitch your christmas cookies as a applique on a tshirt? not sure since there isnt a satin stitch

  • Bonnie Welsh - July 06, 2018

    “Only” 114??? I thought it was hot here in Texas! Wow! Thank you for the kind words. Sounds like a great time to sew up some Christmas Cookies and not turn on a hot oven. =)

  • Dee Landree - July 06, 2018

    Oh they are so cute, I should get on them and maybe it would help with the 122 temp that our patio thermometer says. It’s really only 114 today. Thank god for solar panels to help with the electric.

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